03/20/2017 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports

This day was very fun. I didn’t even go inside Champion Stadium to watch any bp or get any autographs. I instead went to the Minor League fields to watch the Florida Fire Frogs and Rome Braves play the Lakeland Tigers and West Michigan Whitecaps.

When I got to the back fields, the Gwinnett Braves and the Mississippi Braves were leaving to go to Lakeland to play the Mudhens and Seawolves. I got a handfull of autographs when they walked out. Here are some photos.

Balbino Fuenmayor:

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Johan Camargo:

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Leudys Baez:

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And Adam Brett Walker II

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The Braves who were on the big league roster but didn’t take bp inside of Champion Stadium were hitting on one of the back fields. There was quite a bit of action on the path behind the wall. There was a foul ball hit by a right-handed hitter on the Braves (maybe Lane Adams?) which I got. Here it is:

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After that, there were a bunch of home runs that not only cleared the fence on the field that the Braves were hitting on, it cleared the fence that the Rome Braves were taking bp.

Shortly after, a ball rolled to the fence. David Freitas was the one to retrieve it. I didn’t even ask for it, but he flipped it over the fence to me. I thanked him and he said “sure thing.” Nice Guy. Here is a picture of the ball:

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The Braves only took about a 1/2 group of bp, so I’d say 2 balls is pretty good.

Shortly after, a guy who was talking with my dad said that David Justice was watching Minor League bp. He exited the field and I rushed over to get his signature. He signed the Freitas tossup. Here is a picture:

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YES! Justice was wearing the ’95 ring on his finger which was amazing. I’ve never seen a non-replica world series ring up close before.

John Hart was driving his golf cart around and it was really cool to get a few feet away from him.

I waited for the Firefrogs and Rome Braves to start their games for a while and I watched an intersquad game that featured Ronald Acuna. Touki Toussiant sat a few rows in front of me as I watched the game. Here is a picture of Acuna:

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That game was much shorter than I thought it would be as it ended after maybe 5 or 6 innings. I then went over to the Firefrogs game where the Frogs were winning by 2 runs. Afernee Seymour hit a foul ball that I was able to get. I offered it back to players standing on the concourse, but they said that I could keep it. Here it is:

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Ball #1 of the Minor League season before the season has even started. I love it.

I then went to watch the Rome Braves play the Whitecaps. Look how close I got to the coaches:

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For some reason, the Rome Braves were being coached by the Danville Braves coaches. But the cool thing was that their manager for 2017, Randy Ingle was sitting feet away from me. Here he is:

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Excuse the bad picture.

Matt Gonzalez, out of Georgia Tech, hit a foul ball that one of the Braves employees went to get. The employee was nice enough to toss the ball to me for #2 of the year. Here it is:

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I’m off to a great start to the season.

The game ended in a tie, and shortly after, we left the complex. Here is a picture I took on the way out:

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I. love. spring. training. And I might see more. There is a chance that I’ll see the Rockies play the Mariners at Talking Stick on April 1st. Otherwise, I’ll most likely be seeing the Gwinnett Braves play the Durham Bulls on April 9th.

4 balls today in total

3 spring training balls

2 minor league balls in 1 game this season=2 balls per game

19 minor league balls

03/19/2017 at Champion Stadium

Let me start off by saying this: Catching baseballs at Champion Stadium is hard. The fans are physical, the berm gets packed and by the end of Batting Practice, there are 200 people going for each ball that leaves the field.

Before I got in the stadium, I went to the back fields at the Wide World of Sports and watched the Braves pitchers walk to a field to walk to a field to do some drills. Here is a picture of R.A. Dickey walking by.

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Shortly after, Braves #14 prospect Joey Wentz signed a baseball for me. Here’s a picture of his signature.

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I then entered the stadium to watch some bp and get autographs. I ended up getting Ian Krol and Kolten Wong’s autographs by the Batting Cages. Here’s a photo:

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I was shut out in Braves bp, mostly because the Braves must have only hit two or three home runs to left field and they were all caught by the more physical fans. Things then got crowded for Cardinals bp, and 200 people crowded onto the berm.

When Tommy Pham was up, I expected him to hit something deep. He sure did. He hit a ball that bounced  off the warning track and up to me.

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You can get pretty close to the players and coaches at Champion Stadium as you can see in this photo:

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I then watched Catcher Eric Fryer warm up:

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I then watched the Cardinals warm up from the berm:

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Here is a photo of Lance Lynn walking out onto the field from the dugout:

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It was a fun day at Champion Stadium and while 1 baseball isn’t a lot, I was just glad to not be shut out.

1 baseball at this game

1 Spring Training baseball

1 baseball at Champion Stadium

9/10/2016 at Coolray Field

This was my first game at Coolray of the season and it was not crowded at all. I got there about 40 minutes before first pitch but right when I got into the stadium, this was the result:

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I found it tucked under a seat in an empty section and I’m sure it was a ball from batting practice.

I then went to get autographs and I got a lot. Here are some.

Todd Hankins

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Michael Choice

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Guillermo Quiroz

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Ronny Rodriguez

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Giovanny Urshela

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and Steve Karsay

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Unfortunately, the Gwinnett Braves Security enforces that 15 minutes before the first pitch, autograph seekers will be cleared from the stands. I really wanted to get Yandy Diaz and Bradley Zimmer’s ¬†autographs but because of that rule I couldn’t. But that’s okay.

When the Clippers were walking off the field, Jesus Aguilar tossed me this:

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I thanked him in Spanish and he saluted me back. Nice guy. I hope he makes the Indians sometime. The game started soon after and on the second pitch of the game, Yandy Diaz ripped a line drive a section over. I sprinted over and grabbed it for ball number 3 on the day. Here it is:

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You can see the mark on the right side where Diaz’s bat hit the ball.

It was the 6th inning and a few Hispanic Men came to sit in front of me. They started telling jokes in Spanish to Braves 1st base coach Jose Mota and Clippers 1st baseman Jesus Aguilar. It made both of them laugh.

This was my view for the game.

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The Braves ended up winning the game 5-4 and the series 3-1. Here was a picture of the celebration.

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3 baseballs at this game

1 Game at Coolray Field this season

3 Consecutive games with at least 1 ball

3 balls=2nd all time at Coolray Field

13 baseballs at Coolray field

8/17/16 at Turner Field

This was my game at Turner Field. The stadium that I had grown up going to was going to be gone. This was my last chance to catch a Commemorative baseball.

Did it happen? Read to find out.

Dansby Swanson was making his debut in this game. And it was fun.

I arrived at the ballpark at 6:30, 40 minutes before first pitch. I was sitting in 108 Aisle 8, next to Minnesota’s dugout.

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Best seat in the house to get a tossup. The bat boy was just feet away.

This was the first at-bat of a future MLB star:

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Swanson lined out to Eddie Rosario, but that did not make Braves fans any less impressed.

Fast Forward to the bottom of the seventh inning. Ender Inciarte struck out on a pitch in the dirt and Juan Centeno applied the tag. Three outs. Centeno ran back to the Twins dugout. He tossed it high. A little over my head. It would likely land over my head, rows back.

I leaned back and made the catch. A lot of people wanted it. And many even hit my glove. But I had it. First game-used MLB ball. Here it is:

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1 ball at this game

18 MLB/MILB baseballs

2 Consecutive games with at least 1 baseball

1 ball at Turner Field

7/15/16 at Canal Park

I went to this game with my grandfather hoping to see Michael Brantley play on his rehab assignment. We got to the stadium 15 minutes before the gates officially opened to non-season ticket/suite holders.

 

Oh, also it was a sellout and the only non-general admission seats there was were Aisle 10, Row S, Seats 1-2. So that was going to be our location for the game

The lines for the gates backed up to the Suite entrance so we got in line. The gates opened and I rushed inside hoping that BP would still be going on. But sadly it wasn’t so I went down in the aisle next to the Erie Tigers dugout with a pen and a ball, seeking autographs.

This was the first game I had been to in years where the teams weren’t signing. But when the Tigers were done warming up and were walking off the field, there was action.

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This man, Jason Krizan, had a ball still in his glove. A few nights earlier, he had won the Eastern League Home Run Derby, and I yelled “Great Job in the Home Run Derby.”

And this was the result:

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Right after Krizan tossed it up, he said “You already have a ball!” I hadn’t snagged that one at that game so I said “It’s for autographs.” He then just laughed and shook his head. That was the last action in this game.

1 ball at this game

17 Lifetime MILB balls

1 Consecutive game with at least 1 ball

1 Minor League game this season